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IDOC Still Violating Constitution

More than two years after the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) promised a federal court that it would improve health care for those detained in their facilities, the department has failed the fundamental task of creating a plan for making necessary changes. That is the finding contained in a report last week by a court-appointed expert with the federal court.

Dr. John Raba, who serves as the independent, court-appointed monitor in Lippert v. Jeffreys, made the point in the report, writing, "IDOC does not yet have a comprehensive plan to address this Consent Decree; instead, it seems to primarily respond to crises and threats of legal action."

The report is the latest development in the case that was settled in January 2019.

"While the IDOC bureaucrats delay, people are experiencing unnecessary and unconstitutional pain and suffering, sometimes with permanent damage, even death," said Alan Mills of the Uptown People's Law Center, one of the lawyers in the case.

In addition to failing to produce a basic plan for improving conditions in their facilities, the report identified a number of other IDOC deficiencies:

* IDOC is required to install an electronic medical record system to replace its antiquated paper record-keeping system; they were supposed to have a contract in place by Fall 2019 but cancelled the contract they had and have not replaced it;

* The individual who serves as the Communicable and Infectious Disease Coordinator has no training in infection control and a mere eight months of work experience - in the midst of a global pandemic which has infected up to a third of the population under IDOC control;

* IDOC still has not developed a policy for conducting mortality reviews, and is not performing them, and,

* IDOC has not done an analysis of what staff is necessary to address the problems identified in the settlement agreement, and has failed to hire the hundreds of new staff members needed to provide its 27,000-plus population with decent health care.

"The Illinois Department of Corrections continues to obfuscate, delay and ignore their promise to deliver decent healthcare," said Harold Hirshman of Dentons, another of the lawyers working to improve the system. "Enough. It's well past time to stop resisting and start doing."

The report offers little optimism for quick improvement. IDOC signed an agreement to work with Southern Illinois University to improve health care for people in prison. However, neither IDOC or SIU have permitted the monitor - a nationally recognized expert in prison health care - to attend meetings.

"This report card is an embarrassment to IDOC," added Camille Bennett, director of the corrections reform project at the ACLU of Illinois. "Simple assignments - that could be accomplished with little effort - have not been completed."

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Previously:

* May 2017: Federal Court Certifies Lawsuit Charging Unconstitutional Illinois Prison Healthcare.

* May 2018: Mentally Ill Prisoners Win Injunction; Judge Declares IDOC's Failure To Provide Mental Health Care An "Emergency Situation."

* October 2018: Judge: "Deliberate Indifference" Of IDOC Mental Health Care Requires Federal Oversight.

* December 2018: Federal Judge To IDOC: Get Your Unconstitutional Shit Together.

* January 2019: Overhauling Illinois' Unconstitutional Prisons.

* March 2021: Illinois Prisoners' Health Care Still Unconstitutional.

* June 2021: Judge Certifies Class Action Lawsuit Against IDOC.

* August 2021: IDOC Mental Health Care Still Unconstitutional After 5 Years.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on October 23, 2021


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